Place Category: News
Richmond is flat. It’s a fact. Everybody knows this, and as a result everybody says it’s a perfect city for cycling. The City’s cycling facilities work well, for the most part, but are limited. We have the well-known dyke trail which is great, but unpaved. Shell Trail, also unpaved, can take you from just north of Alderbridge Way down to the south arm of the Fraser River. We also have some painted lanes on certain roads which aren’t perfect, but are better than nothing. Unfortunately, the bike lanes on No 3 Rd are uneven, incomplete, and kind of embarrassing.
Cycling is increasing in popularity, and facilities are expanding, although one city city councillor confusingly thinks we’ve done enough.The most exciting piece, the 4 km Railway Ave Greenway, is under construction on a former rail line and will link the middle and south arms of the Fraser. Lansdowne Rd will eventually see a 10 m linear park along its length with a bidirectional bike path on its northern side. Sexsmith Rd will get separated lanes, as will River Rd from Hollybridge Way to Cambie Rd as it is redirected over time, also on a former rail bed.
This is exciting stuff, but other than Railway (with funding from TransLink) they are all dependent on new development and developer contributions. If the market crashed tomorrow, so would our bicycle dreams. Any other cycling improvements get their money from a tiny budget that doesn’t have enough to complete a neighbourhood bike route in a single year. We’re talking signage, paint, and a little paving, nothing crazy. Things are happening, but too slowly.
This budget predicament got me thinking about what we could build for the $4 million that Richmond spends on road repaving every year. Instead of cycling advocates fighting endlessly for new money, why don’t we put off repaving for a year (the roads will survive) and direct the money, and materials and labour, towards bike infrastructure? And let’s do it every three years. Spend year 1 consulting the public on what’s needed. Year 2 will be for designing and refining. Year 3 is the year the money is diverted and the facilities are built. Year 4 we celebrate, study the impacts, and start again. Do this three times over 9 years at a cost of $12 million and, combined with what’s being built by developers, Richmond will have some of the best cycling infrastructure in the country, and at no extra charge.
Could this work in every city? Probably not, but surely cities could rethink the necessity of some of their annual paving projects. Also, the benefit of Richmond’s very proactive paving policy is that the City’s roads are in exceptionally good condition. Should we have to do this? In a city that is able to find over $100 million for a seniors centre, pool, and fire hall, you wouldn’t think so. If transportation infrastructure funding is limited, however, sharing the wealth with bikes might be a plausible solution.